Problem Is Authoritarianism and Not Legalism

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    Problem Is Authoritarianism and Not Legalism

    I used to think the problem in modern Christianity was legalism. I was wrong. I now see that some Christians flaunt their freedom and taunt their foes while other Christians consult their legal formulas and insult their libertine friends. One man's freedom is another man's sin, but both groups suffer from a much larger problem. The church of Jesus Christ in the 21st century is losing its power because of an infatuation with authority. It is authoritarianism, not legalism, that has become the biggest challenge Christians face. William Bausch, church historian par excellence, has correctly written, "No cultic priesthood is to be found in the New Testament. Yet we are importing Old Testament Levitical forms and imposing them on Christian ministry."

    The world has established systems of governance with imperial forms of authority, governance similar to that of the Hebrews in the Old Covenant. The Hebrews looked--and the world looks--to positions of authority for their leadership. Webster's defines authority as "the power to influence thought, opinion, or behavior by convincing force or control." Governments have authority. Kings have authority. Presidents have authority. The Hebrew priests had authority. The control or force these systems of governance exert vary, but the authority is similar. Leadership comes from people in higher positions of authority.

    The church of Jesus Christ was never designed to operate in this manner. Jesus explicitly taught in Matthew 23:8-11 (read it for yourself to see) that the only person who rules Christian communities is the Lord Himself. Under Him, we are all equals. He emphatically rejected the world's system of top-down governance by declaring, "It shall not be so among you" (Mark 10:43). "The greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 23:11). There is no emphasis in the New Testament on authority that is derived from any "office" or position. Let me repeat that again: Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that a Christian, because of title or position, has moral authority over another Christian. The idea of an 'office' of authority in the church, like that of the office of 'President of the United States,' simply does not exist. Christ alone has the position of authority in the church and He has no vicar on earth but His Spirit, who resides in the life of every believer.

    The King James Version unfortunately translates the Greek word diakonia as "office" in Romans 11:13, but diakonia is always elsewhere properly translated as "service" or "servant." Christians serve others and any leadership in the church should flow from this selfless service or oversight of others; pagans seek offices that grant authority so that their leadership (lordship) over other people is inherent to their positions or titles. Christians morally persuade others by our love and grace; pagans morally coerce others by their position of authority. When Christians act like pagans, they turn their homes, churches, and organizations into structures of authority where everybody is coerced to submit to the authority and control of another person in a higher 'position' of authority. The equality of New Covenant believers in Christ is lost because Old Covenant Levitical forms of authority are imposed on Christian ministry.

    How does one know if the Christian community or church to which he or she belongs is following Christ's teachings on leadership or is a reflection of the pagan's understanding of authority? What are the signs imperial authoritarianism in the church? The following are ten indicators:

    (1). There is never any freedom to question the leader.
    (2). The leader often makes claims of having special insights from God, insights that the laity are unable to possess.
    (3). Disagreement with the leader is deemed a sign of the devil's influence in one's life.
    (4). Events are designed to bring attention and praise to the leader rather than equipping others to do the work of the ministry.
    (5). Any concept of equality is immediately labeled rebellion or the end result of a "liberal" denial of the Bible.
    (6) Authoritarian leaders are only comfortable around like-minded leaders; thus, there is an unofficial 'speaking tour' where only imperial, authoritarian leaders share the platform with each other.
    (7). The measure of success becomes the number of people who follow the leader ("It must be of God! Look at how many come to hear me speak!")
    (8). If a person leaves the community or church, the problem is always in the person who leaves, not the leadership.
    (9). Leaders who wrongly perceive themselves as those "with authority" insulate their lives by demanding absolute loyalty through giving large financial benefits to their closest 'advisors.'
    (10). The ultimate end of this kind of Christian leadership is always more; more money, more power, more followers, more publicity, more, more, more...

    The people of Christ are beginning to awaken to the abuses in the modern church. Whereas I thought it important in years past to challenge the legalism prevalent in the Southern Baptist Convention, I have become utterly convinced that the major problem in modern Christendom is authoritarianism, not legalism. Ask yourself if you are in a place of worship where there is always a fresh, radical presentation of the freedom and equality of individual followers of Christ. If not, consider leaving, because in the end you will find your Christian community was never really about Christ or His people at all.

    The story is at http://www.wadeburleson.org/2012/01/our-problem-is-authoritarianism-and-not.html
     
  2. HAMel

    HAMel
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,048
    Likes Received:
    83
    Way to many mama called preachers out there. Way to many churches bogged down with tradition. Way to many preachers willing to preach guilt trips to keep folks in line. To many sheeple.

    A new day began when the Lord finally explained to me that it should not be a burden to be a Christian. :thumbsup:
     
  3. Brads70

    Brads70
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree to many people are like sheep, but we are taught that God puts people in positions of authority and we are to submit to them. It's a fine line to follow for sure. Something I struggle with often. I often feel that if I actually have the courage to stand up and say something then somehow I'm causing disunity. People have been forever had scriptures used to abuse/control them, made to feel guilty for questioning etc...
    That's nothing new. Pastor's/leaders are not perfect all the time . Pride, ego, money and power are a constant struggle....on both sides of the fence?
    I'm convinced there is no perfect Church....at least anyone I attend as soon as I enter it.....it's not perfect anymore! LOL
    Personally I avoid most church meetings as there is almost always something I don't agree with. Most of the time they are not big issues so I let it go.
     
  4. HAMel

    HAMel
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,048
    Likes Received:
    83
    Brads70, if any preacher walks on my toes during a service then I need to examine myself. Obviously, it's not the preacher but the Lord convicting me.

    However, if any preacher places any kind of a burden or condition that comes with undue "works" then it's wrong. People walking around constantly afraid of losing their salvation is but a burden.

    We are to take all our burdens to the Lord and leave them there. Consequently, we suffer no burdens. Suffer the little children to come unto me, He says. Obviously, our Lord is not referring to the age of little children but the condition of their hearts. The hearts of way too many adults are simply hardening.

    Praise God I'm free.
     
    #4 HAMel, Jan 27, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 27, 2012
  5. Zenas

    Zenas
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2007
    Messages:
    2,640
    Likes Received:
    6
    The phenomenon that gb93433 describes is something I have no familiarity with, and I don't believe it is a common problem in Southern Baptist churches. IFB's, maybe. Pentecostal churches, definitely.
     
  6. Brads70

    Brads70
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    I can see 6.7 and 8 in the Church I attend.
    Elders and Deacons are chosen by the Pastor. Yes the congregation votes on a name and nominates a name but the name is first ya or nay'ed by the Pastor before it gets voted on by the congregation. Sure I understand the Pastor is privy to information about people that is none of my business, but this method is open to abuse . All the elders , Deacons at my church "tow the party line" or they wouldn't be there. The Pastor surrounds himself with people that agree with everything he does . If you have ever spoke up or disagreed with anything then you have zero chance of serving on these positions. Numerous people have been on the nominating committee ( including myself) and have spoken of and disagreed with how this works and are never asked to do this or anything else again. Lots of us feel like we are on some sort of "black list" . I'm fine with that as it's in God's hands not mine. I'm happy serving doing jobs most people don't like to do around the church.
    with point #7...
    Kind of human nature.....majority rules... "if the masses want it or agree with it well there can be no doubt God wants it too" sort of thinking. Eg. We just had a very biased "vote " on changing our Constitution regarding women as deacons....81% said yes. Only the Pastors position was allowed to be heard. Yes some people angrily got up and quoted scripture but they were dismissed as not understanding how to read/interpret scripture buy the Pastor. One retired Pastor actually got up and said how horrible it was that some are not following such a Godly man and do we not have faith that God brought him here, so we should support him. Most of the people bought it. I asked some and they replied the Pastor knows scripture better than I do so I went with what he said.
    Sure sounds dangerous to me? That's how cults are formed?

    #8Some people who have left and I know the real reasons, and when they ask to have there name removed from membership the reason given is in the church members meeting is " oh they moved away, and are going to a different church now" It gets swept under the carpet.
     
  7. HAMel

    HAMel
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,048
    Likes Received:
    83
    Sure I understand the Pastor is privy to information about people that is none of my business, but this method is open to abuse . All the elders , Deacons at my church "tow the party line" or they wouldn't be there. The Pastor surrounds himself with people that agree with everything he does . If you have ever spoke up or disagreed with anything then you have zero chance of serving on these positions. Numerous people have been on the nominating committee ( including myself) and have spoken of and disagreed with how this works and are never asked to do this or anything else again. Lots of us feel like we are on some sort of "black list" . I'm fine with that as it's in God's hands not mine. I'm happy serving doing jobs most people don't like to do around the church.

    There should be no secrets in church. Private and personal information, yes, but otherwise, no. If the pastor of your church operates as you describe then it's time to move on! If it's "his way" or the "highway"..., where does the Lord fit in? ...He doesn't.

    Time to move on, brother.
     
  8. Brads70

    Brads70
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    This something I'm deeply sruggling with now. Been struggling with this for years now. I'm REALLY torn . I fear the deacon( es) issue is the last straw though. I've been there for 25 years now. I have 3 boys and a wife to consider. It's the only church my boys have even known. The people there are family to me and my family. All our friends attend etc.... our lives are really woven in at this Church. People that know how I really feel , tell me to stay and wait for the pastor to leave. But I don't see that happening anytime soon. I also want to be REALLY sure it's not my own pride , spiritual immaturity, etc... that is the issue or even part of it ?
     
  9. Ed B

    Ed B
    Expand Collapse
    Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2010
    Messages:
    302
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is my observation as well. The worst examples I have seen were in Pentecostal churches and IFB churches. I heard horror stories from friends about "Shepparding churches" among the independent charismatic circles that would make the Pentecostals and the worst IFB examples seem insignificant.
     
  10. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    I do not whether to agree or disagree with you but just a few weeks ago someone posted about two prospective associate pastors coming out of SWBTS and how they were determined as a young buck with a complete disregard for the senior pastor whom the people loved.

    One of the complaints I have heard from employers is how this generation expects to achieve in a few years what others have taken many years to. When I tell young people that it will take about ten years to achieve what they want they often give me some strange looks as though I am wrong. Too often they tell each other and are told by their teachers what they should not hear. In 1969 is when I got my first job working in the profession I have been in for many years. Somehow students too often think they are different than the advice I give them until they get their first job and find out what some told them and how ignorant some of their other teachers were. Today the emphasis is on education and degrees. While they help they do not replace experience and longevity.Three of the best and most demanding professors I had while in seminary had been pastors after they got their doctorate. Each one of them could tell the class about the problems they encountered and how they dealt with them. They could also tell us how the languages helped them and what they did to keep up their skills.

    At the graduate school I attended in my field not one of the professors had any experience in the field. I had over 30 years. The university where I taught did not have any in the program in whcih I taught who had a doctorate. One of the professors was selected as teacher of the year by a national professional organization. He had only been teaching six years at the time. Many at the university did not want him to get tenure simply because he did not have a doctorate. Two of the faculty only had a B.A. but were tops in their field. One of them was recognized nationally in his work. It would be much like refusing to consider Bill Gates to teach at a university.

    Until one month ago I met with a young pastor each week trying to help him through some things and make disciples. Over and over I had to remind him of his attitude. So many times he would compare the church he was pastoring to others. I told him that God has given him a church and that he needed to reach people and forget about others. One of the people he compared himself to is a pastor who was born and raised in the city. After graduation that pastor who was raised in the city went from high school to a theological school and then returned to plant a church. That was almost 30 yeas ago. What so many younger people do not realize and are not prepared for is how so many pastors who planted the church they are pastoring struggled just to make ends meet sometimes for several years. They came with God and a vision. In the first church I pastored I had an old car that seemed to need repair at least twice a month. Someone offered me a much newer car and I told the person that I would not be able to pay the insurance on it. So I refused it. Two years later the same person bought me a car that was almost new. At that time I could afford the insurance.

    After about one year I became very frustrated because it seemed that the people did not see any urgency and were not prepared to reach people. They thought that if they just prayed and did the things that larger churches did that people would come. They were trying to be an attractive church. At the time I spoke with a much older pastor who had just retired and had planted two churches in the area. The denominational worker in charge of church planting had never planted a church and the retired pastor had planted two that are still alive today. Basically the retired pastor told me to hang in there and pray. He shared some of the tough times he had while planting churches. The man from the denomination would share with me statistics. The retired pastor would ask me about my devotional life. In getting to know the retired pastor I found out from others about how he was a tremendous encouragement to others when they were in their first pastorate. I am glad that I hung in there because the blessings I saw were so great. I saw God change me. Answered prayers became in abundance. Other pastors started calling me and asking me about what I was doing. I was working hard but it was much more about what God was doing.

    What is often not heard is the struggles of some pastors. What they have learned and trust God for. What I have not heard much of until I was involved in church planting is that about 80% of the new church plants fail within two years. When I was in that church there was a church which disbanded and we received their sound system. What few know is that the pastor who started that church is the son in law of a well known denominational leader. That pastor went to get a doctorate at a theological school where one of his relatives was at and is highly influential in the denomination. When he graduated he pastored a large church. His only past experience had been a failed church plant. Today he is pastoring a larger church is a much larger city.

    It seems to me that today there is too often a disregard for the older pastor who has been pastoring for years in favor of the advice of the younger pastors who have written books and articles who are pastoring large churches in large cities. I read the book The Pastor In Profile by Adolph Bedsole several years ago given to me by an elderly pastor. The content in the book is often very different than what I have been reading in newer books. I would say that book should be read by every pastor and lay leader.

    Yesterday when I met with several pastors in the city one of them said that his denomination's approach to church planting is that if there is not one of their churches in an area then they need to plant one. Their idea is that the other churches are struggling and that the city needs what they have because the other pastors just do not know. He mentioned that he found out something very different. What he said that he learned is that pastors have been here for years struggling to reach people and that he is among a long line of that history. The idea he had when he came was that he was going to be the one who straighten everyone out.
     
  11. DaChaser1

    DaChaser1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Messages:
    2,324
    Likes Received:
    0
    part ogf the problems in comtemporay church are both ;egalism and over zealous ruling, but also big problem is to try to make the Gospel message appealing to post modern culture, so we tend to water it it down, and lose the biblcal Christ and Cross in the process!
     
  12. menageriekeeper

    menageriekeeper
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2004
    Messages:
    7,152
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good article, GB. Thanks!
     
  13. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    I call that what is perceived growth at any cost. Years ago when I met with a denominational leader to plant churches he asked me why I felt people would come to my church. I told him because there are genuine Christians there. He asked me a second question and I gave him the same answer again. He responded by saying to not misunderstand him but that people come to church because of entertainment. I told him that there was better entertainment on TV and that I did not believe a word of that. When I finally met with the church plant board for approval there were men on that board who are nationally known and asked some very good questions. They wanted to know what I would do to reach non-Chrisitans and disciple them once they became believers. When I realized I would have to work with the man who told me about the entertainment I realized that he was not going where I was. Even my wife noticed some strange things about him and had doubts about as I did. So finally when he told us that he was getting divorced we decided to leave and not plant a church. I am glad we did.
     
  14. DaChaser1

    DaChaser1
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Messages:
    2,324
    Likes Received:
    0
    Any today can have a "ministry' and produce numbers, the Lord looks for the spiritual growth!
     
  15. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    To not lose the biblical Christ and be doers of the word requires a regular devotional life and study. That is hard work and requires discipline. Sometime listen to the message Born To Reproduce at http://www.discipleshiplibrary.com/dawson_trotman.php

    Listen to when Dawson Trotman says about the 29 prospective missionaries he interviewed and how only one was satisfied with their devotional life.

    The message can be found in written form at http://www.bibleteacher.org/Dm118_8.htm
     
  16. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    If that were possible then most would. Most do not know how to engage people and really do not care. Most do not know how to make disciples either.

    Spiritual growth is not measured like so many would have us think. It is measured in terms of a mature relationship with God and man. When we are God's people know it and we do too. We see sin for what it is. We do what God commands when he commands it. We are His even if nobody else is. There is always fruit that is consistent with being a doer of the Word. That is not wood of a tree but fruit. Numbers will be like wood but with no fruit if the Holy Spirit is not in it. Numbers may also represent souls who are growing and making disciples. I read about a church that was started in 2000 and 15,000 people attend in a town of 23,000. The focus is on making disciples. The pastor does not care if you come with a seminary degree. What he cares is if you make disciples.

    I can only think of one book I read where the author talked about a church that sent it leaders to a church growth conference and returned doing everything the conference taught. The church was at 50 and one year later it was at 500. The following year it was back at 50. I ask, "Where was the Holy Spirit in all of that?" In a book?
     
  17. HAMel

    HAMel
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2009
    Messages:
    2,048
    Likes Received:
    83
    This something I'm deeply sruggling with now. Been struggling with this for years now. I'm REALLY torn . I fear the deacon( es) issue is the last straw though. I've been there for 25 years now. I have 3 boys and a wife to consider. It's the only church my boys have even known. The people there are family to me and my family. All our friends attend etc.... our lives are really woven in at this Church. People that know how I really feel , tell me to stay and wait for the pastor to leave. But I don't see that happening anytime soon. I also want to be REALLY sure it's not my own pride , spiritual immaturity, etc... that is the issue or even part of it ?

    ...two comments here. First, you mention your children. Three impressionable boys that are being indoctrinated under undesirable leadership. They don't understand the politics involved but their minds are still working. Two, struggling with this for 25 years is above and beyond the call of duty. "Struggling" with it for 25 minutes is about all the time you need.

    The last church I attended was for nine years and the Lord finally "drove" me away! Apparently I didn't have enough sense to leave on my own so He fixed it for me.

    Have you an abundance of other churches to attend in your area?
     
  18. Brads70

    Brads70
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    I wouldn't say I've been struggling for 25 year, maybe the last 5-7 but I get your point :)
    That's another problem ....there is not an abundance of churches I feel comfortable with. I'm planning on trying a bretheren church this Sunday. ( just me) I'll have to talk it over with the wife first just so she understands . My father in-law totally understands and supports me in what I'm having issues with. He used to go to the same church too till he moved to PA . He too doesen't know of any churches locally that he feels comfortable recommending. He is encouraging me to try the bretheren church. He also said to try and be positive, and look for the good and not dwell on the bad with the current church. His point was " are people still being saved" To that I would answer yes....it would seem so as our church has trippled in size since I first started going. But to be honest... I question the growth? Yes people are still making decisions for Christ. but I believe quite a bit of the growth is due to a huge new modern building and people that came from other churches for various reasons.
     
  19. gb93433

    gb93433
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2003
    Messages:
    15,496
    Likes Received:
    6
    You should be making disciples wherever you are. That is not dependent on a church but you and God.
     
  20. Brads70

    Brads70
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    How do you mean ? I understand what your saying ( and agree) just don't understand how it ties in?:wavey:
     

Share This Page

Loading...